Cerebral Palsy - An Overview

Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of chronic movement, muscle, and brain disorders. CP is the result of significant brain damage, and can be caused a number of ways. Most cases of CP develop during gestation or the birth process, or immediately after. Often cerebral palsy can be avoided, and sadly it is often caused by medical negligence on the part of the nurses or attending physician. Of course, cerebral palsy can be caused by other brain injuries, such as a car accident or bad fall. Most often, however, these types of injuries are classified as "traumatic brain injuries" when they occur in older children or adults.

There are four main types of cerebral palsy, each with its own symptoms and causes. The first type is Athetoid cerebral palsy, which is characterized by involuntary muscle movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy is the type of cerebral palsy caused by an injury to the cerebellum, and also affects the movement of the child. The most common type of cerebral palsy is Spastic cerebral palsy. Some children may have a mixture of these three problems, which is classified as mixed cerebral palsy.

Athetoid cerebral palsy is sometimes called dyskinetic cerebral palsy. The muscle tone on the child is always changing, and causes the child to have the uncontrolled movements that are commonly understood to be a part of the injury. Children who have athetoid cerebral palsy have damage to the basal ganglia. Damage over many parts of the brain will lead to this form of cerebral palsy. Quadriplegia may result with athetoid cerebral palsy. Sometimes adults will develop these types of movements as well, but this is an entirely different disease. In order for tremors and muscle spasms to be classified as athetoid cerebral palsy, they must be present from early childhood.

Ataxic cerebral palsy causes a child to have less coordination. The child with this disorder will be thrown off balance easier, and will have less control over movements. Movements will be jerky, and many people mistakenly assume children with this injury are mentally handicapped. This is the most rare form of cerebral palsy.

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form of the disease. It can affect one or more of the limbs of the body. Many people are familiar with the term quadriplegic, which refers to a person who has no control over the four limbs of the body. When this injury occurs in a child, it is a form of spastic cerebral palsy. The joints and muscles become tight and rigid and cannot move. This form of cerebral palsy also often has a mental disability associated with it. Spastic cerebral palsy is sometimes called "hypertonic cerebral palsy" due to the fact that the muscles in the body grow too fast, and the bones cannot keep up with the growth.

The final type of cerebral palsy is mixed cerebral palsy. This is the form of the injury that is diagnosed when two different forms of cerebral palsy are found in the same child. Most often this is a combination of spastic with either athetoid or ataxic cerebral palsy. All three types can be found in the same patient with severe injuries.

Finding out that your child is a victim of a brain injury that caused cerebral palsy can be devastating. If you are in this situation, you should consider seeking help and advice from any cerebral palsy parent and child support groups that are out there. Once you have found the emotional help that you need, you also need to seek legal help. In many cases, cerebral palsy is the result of medical malpractice. This means that you have a right to compensation for the injuries caused to your child, and you will want to get the help of a lawyer in this process. A specialized birth injury lawyer can help fight for a better life for your child and your family, and give you peace of mind for the future.

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